Final lecture explores the tomb of Maya queen K’abel on April 6

Please join us for the final lecture of our 2016-2017 lecture series. On Thursday, April 6 at 7:00pm in the Folk Hall Auditorium at the University of Akron, Dr. Olivia Navarro-Farr of The College of Wooster will present a talk entitled “Statecraft and Sorcery: Lady K’abel; Princess of Kan and Queen of Wak’”.


The Ancient Maya Rulers of the Classic Period (~AD 200-800) are well-known for having documented the triumphs and downfalls of their dynastic histories, yielding the only truly “Classical” record of the ancient American Pre-European world. In known sites across the Maya area today, this record has often served as a guide for archaeologists seeking to reconstruct clearer details of these ancient cities, reconciling this fragmentary history with high resolution archaeological data. Yet while this record serves as such a rich source of historical information (a medium privileged in Western scholarship) it is nevertheless biased towards male dynasts. This bias understandably forces our focus to the greatness of ancient Maya male rulers. Yet critical scholarship from more current theoretical influences also begs reconsideration of the evidence such bias may unwittingly compel us to overlook/underestimate.  Research at Waka’ which began in 2003 was also informed by the same understanding of the city’s known and fragmented history. The site’s best known rulers lived during the Late Classic (~AD 500-800). The marriage of King Kinich Bahlam II of the Wak’ dynasty and Queen K’abel of the Kan or Snake dynasty was one of the most politically powerful alliances of that age, made so by the formidable position of the queen herself. In 2012, excavations resulted in the astonishing discovery of a royal tomb with strong evidence suggesting the remains were those of Queen K’abel. Since this discovery we have learned of the remarkable degree of reverence the people of Waka’ held for their 7th century queen, for their golden age alliance with Kan, and of the kind of symbolic power she possessed. Queen K’abel was interred in a way and with items that not only suggest her affiliation with Kan and her political importance in the region, but as a powerful mediator with the supernatural. This discussion focuses on the evidence for these assertions.  More generally, this talk is an opportunity to consider the often-overlooked sources of power and influence ancient royal women possessed.

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